Budgerigars or Budgies for short, are one of the most popular pet birds in North America, and it isn’t hard to see why. These friendly birds are extremely intelligent, and can even be taught to speak. They are also relatively small, inexpensive, and easy to care for, making them the perfect option for a first-time bird owner. They are also a great pet for children. Best of all, with proper care, there companions can live out long lives of up to fifteen years!
If you are thinking of bringing a budgie (or two) into your household, the first thing you’ll need to get is the perfect cage. This is perhaps one of the most important considerations, as this will be your pet’s home and where it spends most of its time. Budgies are extremely active and social, and need plenty of space to flap about and climb around. For this reason, the minimum size cage recommended has a width of 45cm, and a height and depth of 40cm. and bigger than this is even better. It is also important to ensure that the bars of your bird’s cage are not spaced more than half an inch apart. A good cage should have at least a few different wooden perches for your budgie to stand on. Of course, your cage should be equipped with cups for your pet’s food and water. You should plan to keep the cage in an area free from draughts and direct sunlight.
Proper nutrition for you budgie will primarily consist of a high quality seed mix which can be purchased at most pet stores. In addition, many birds enjoy a snack of fresh fruit or vegetables once in a while, which could include a slice of apple or carrots. As with any pet, providing a constant supply of fresh water is important. Make sure that this food and water is placed in an area that is less likely to be contaminated with feathers or droppings. Dishes that latch onto the side of the cage are usually preferred. Your budgie will also need a cuttle bone and mineral block (items which are readily available at pet stores) which provide essential nutrients. While many pet store employees are very knowledgeable, your veterinarian is probably the best person to ask if you have any specific nutrition questions.
On top of these basic requirements, it is a good idea to have various toys available for your budgie to entertain itself with. A simple swing, bell, or ring, can provide your pet with the stimulation it needs to maintain its psychological and emotional health and promote its development.
Once you have the above items prepared, and you are ready to purchase and bring home your new pet, there are a few more things you’ll have to consider. For one, you must decide upon how many birds you’d like get. While a pair of budgies will bond closely and keep each other company, a single budgie usually bonds more closely with its owner, and is more easily trained to speak and become hand-tamed. This decision should therefore be based on how much time you are willing to devote to socializing your bird. If you feel you will not be able to provide the kind of attention a lone budgie requires, a pair might be the better choice.
Whether you bring home one or two budgies, the first trip home will be a stressful one from the bird’s point of view. To make it feel safe and comfortable, you should give your pet time to explore its new cage on its own, and avoid any sudden or loud noises as best you can. As your budgie begins to adjust, you can start to approach the cage more often and speak to it in a soft and gentle voice. With time, your new pet will come to recognize you. Some pet stores will sell birds that are already hand-trained. In this case, you can get your budgie to stand on your finger by approaching it slowly, gently pressing on its chest, and saying ‘up’. If your bird is not yet trained, you will have to work on getting it used to your hand first, and then begin the training process.
Once you get past this initial bit of preparation and training, you can look forward to many years of low maintenance companionship from your budgie. A bit of daily attention and a weekly cage cleaning is pretty much all it will take to provide your budgie with a long and happy life. Whether you decide to carry your bird around on your finger, teach it to speak, or simply enjoy watching it hop and flutter about, your budgie will undoubtedly be a wonderful addition to your household, and your family.
By Alison Norwich – Pets.ca writer